Friday, 30 October 2009

Halloween is upon us! ~ Black Dogs , Ghost Dogs ~ Two personal experiences of dog ghosts

As Halloween is almost here, I thought that I would write something about ghost dogs.

But first, one of my own experiences of dog ghosts. This is a true story.


There is a quiet country lane close to where I live (NW Leicestershire, UK). Sometimes I walk along it with my dogs.
A few years ago I was walking down it, when I heard a dog whimpering and crying in distress. The noise was coming from the far side of the hedge bordering the road. My two dogs were silent and alert, and were staring at the part of the hedge where the crying was coming from. I stopped walking and the whimpering ceased, but my dogs were still staring at the same place. As I couldn't get access at that point, I walked further on to a gate, and was able to gain access to the field behind the hedge. THERE WAS NOTHING THERE!!! No dogs, no other animals, no people - just an empty field. It was a clear bright autumn day. As you can imagine, I felt it was a very weird experience, especially as both of my dogs were aware of something being there!
We finished our walk in peace, but I was puzzled and unsettled by the incident. So, a couple of days later, we walked along the lane again at the same time as before. EXACTLY THE SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN AT THE SAME PLACE! The whimpering was loud and clear, and ,again, there was nothing there! My two dogs were alert and silent, just as before. This time I felt a chill run down my spine. I started to wonder if ghost dogs existed!
I repeated the exercise the following day and the same thing happened yet again. After that the phenomenon ceased, and did not repeat itself until a year later. It was at the same time of day (mid-morning) in early autumn (fall). It was a fine day as before, and there were no other people, dogs, or other animals around.
I went along there every day at the same time and had the exact same experience. But after a few days it stopped again - and was not repeated until the following year at the same time and place. This happened to me for 4 years running before stopping completely. I've never heard it again.
I've thought about it a lot and only ever discussed it with my wife.
It is a long, straight and narrow country lane. Cars do sometimes drive very fast along it. I'm wondering if a dog was killed there. I guess that I should have asked my neighbours at the time, but I left it.
A friend of mine has told me that ghosts appear to have a "lifetime". That is, the reported phenomena starts, continues for some years, and then ceases! That is what happened with my dog ghost. And it is a true story.
As it is nearly Halloween I will tell you another true story further down the page.

Lets get back to Black Dogs and Ghost Dogs

Black Dogs occur in folk lore all over Britain. Black dogs are also reported all over Latin America.
In America there are stories of Snarly Yow. See : Ghosts and Legends of Frederick County by Timothy L. Cannon and Nancy F. Whitmore.
It is a night time apparation and is considered to be a portent of death. It is said to be larger than a normal dog and possess glowing eyes.
Whitby (in England) has a very famous Black Dog. Whitby is also the setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula!
In Britain various names are given to Black Dogs depending on locality, e.g. Barguest, Shuck, Black Shag, Trash, Skriker, Padfoot, Hooter,etc. There is list below :
  • Devon : Yell Hound or Yell Hound
  • East Anglia : Old Shock, Shucky Dog, Black Shuck, the Shug Monster
  • Lancashire : Trash, Guytrash, Skriker
  • Leicestershire : Shag Dog
  • Lincolnshire : Hairy Jack
  • Midlands :  Hooter
  • Norfolk : Shuck, Black Shuck, Old Shuck
  • Somerset : Gurt Dog or ‘great dog’
  • Staffordshire : Padfoot 
  • Suffolk : Scarfe, Gally-trot, Gallytrot, Galley Trot, Moddey Dhoe
  • Warwickshire :  Hooter
  • Westmorland : Cappel
  • Wales :  Gwyllgi (dog of darkness)Yorkshire : Barghest, Barghaist, Barguest, Barguest, Barn-ghaist, Skriker
  • Scotland : Black dog known as the Muckle Black Tyke and in Gaelic as Choin Dubh. Cu Sith or fairy dog is more common and is usually green or sometimes white.
  • Isle of Man : Moddey Dhoo, which means "Black Dog" and is pronounced "Mauther Thoo" in Manx Gaelic 
  • Jersey :  Le Tchan de Bouôlé
Black Dogs can appear in specific types of places:
  • roads
  • crossroads
  • lanes
  • footpath
  • bridges
  • gateways
  • doorways
  • staircases
  • boundaries
  • fields
  • hedges
  • green lanes
  • treasure sites
  • wayside burials
  • graves and gallows
  • wells and trees
Black dogs have a long history. The first English account of a black dog appears in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle' of 1127.

" Let no-one be surprised at the truth of what we are about to relate, for it was common knowledge throughout the whole country that immeddaitely after his arrival [Abbot Henry of Poitou at Abbey of Peterborough] - it was the Sunday when they sing Exurge Quare o, D - many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting. The huntsmen were black, huge and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats and their hounds were jet black with eyes like saucers and horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough and in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns. Relaible witnesses who kept watch in the night declared that there might well have been as many as twenty or thirty of them winding their horns as near they could tell. This was seen and heard from the time of his arrival all through Lent and right up to Easter."

That's just a taster for you!

Below are a couple of interesting books that you might like to read.

edited by Bob Trubshaw
The folklore of phantom black dogs is known throughout the British Isles. From the Black Shuck of East Anglia to the Moody Dhoo of the Isle of Man there are tales of huge spectral hounds 'darker than the night sky' with eyes 'glowing red as burning coals'.
The phantom black dog of British and Irish folklore, which often forewarns of death, is part of a world-wide belief that dogs are sensitive to spirits and the approach of death, and keep watch over the dead and dying. North European and Scandinavian myths dating back to the Iron Age depict dogs as corpse eaters and the guardians of the roads to Hell. Medieval folklore includes a variety of 'Devil dogs' and spectral hounds. Above all, the way people have thought about such ghostly creatures has steadily evolved.
In the last hundred years East Anglia and Dorset have received the greatest attention from folklorists interested in such canine apparitions. This book includes a detailed study of the lore in Norfolk, showing how oral tales become interwoven with published accounts and the heritage of historic places.
But are phantom black dogs nothing more than myths and tales? There is also an assessment of the psychology of phantom black dog sightings. Another chapter quotes emails from various people in America and Canada who have been terrified by phantom black dogs without any prior awareness of such folklore.
The concluding part of this book is a comprehensive annotated bibliography of phantom black dog literature, including listings by geographical area.
This book will appeal to all those interested in folklore, the paranormal and fortean phenomena.
Contributors: Jeremy Harte, Simon Sherwood, Alby Stone, Bob Trubshaw and Jennifer Westwood.


Paul Sieveking Fortean Times

'I think this must be the best entry in the Explore series I have seen so far... '
Aeronwy Dafies Monomyth Supplement

'... a very important contribution to the literature... highly recommended.'
Andrew Bates Silver Wheel

'This is an excellent work and is very highly recommended.'
Michael Howard The Cauldron

Published by Explore Books, an imprint of Heart of Albion Press.
ISBN 978 1872 883 786. 2005.
demy 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 152 + viii pages, 10 b&w half-tones, paperback

Synopsis and reviews courtesy of Explore Books

and have a look at this:

The following refernce is very interesting to read. The link will take you to the University of Wisconsin Madinson Library, which is a safe site to visit.
Chambers, R. (Ed.) (1879). Spectre Dogs. In, The Book of Days Vol. 2 (pp. 433-436). Philadelphia, PA: J. P. Lippincott & Co.


And now to my other personal experience of a ghost dog. This is also a true story.

It happened at the animal shelter where I worked. We had a small intake block which sometimes had an odd feel about it. Some of the kennel girls said that they sometimes felt that something was there which they couldn't see.
There was a central corridor with individual kennels either side. I'd walked to the door at one end. Suddenly all the dogs fell silent, and I heard claws tapping down the corridor and which stopped just behind me. I thought that one of the dogs had got free, but when I looked around all I saw was an empty corridor with all the kennel doors shut. Every dog was saniding at its door staring at the space behind me. The hairs on my neck really did stand up!
Well whatever it was, it only happened to me the one time (thankfully).

That's my two personal experiences of ghost dogs plus some info about Black Dogs.

It will be a full moon on November 2nd (UK) so watch out for werewolves!

Happy Halloween!

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